The Final Four, one of the most celebrated and loved sports events of the year, is finally here. It’s safe to say this year is going to be just as good, if not better, than previous years. It might also be safe to say that not many people actually believed that these four teams would be here.
Out of the 18,797,085 brackets that were filled out for the ESPN bracket challenge, only 657 had Oregon, UNC, Gonzaga and South Carolina in the Final Four. That’s just 0.00003 percent.
South Carolina and Gonzaga are making their first Final Four appearances in program history. Oregon is also making their first since 1939.
Needless to say, UNC has the upper hand in terms of participation and experience. Roy Williams has coached a total of 520 minutes in the Final Four while Mark Few (Gonzaga), Frank Martin (South Carolina) and Dana Altman (Oregon) all have zero minutes.
Let’s take a closer look at the upcoming Final Four matchups for this weekend.
UNC vs. Oregon
UNC is clearly favored by many to win this game and the championship because of their experience.
The Tar Heels are led by coach Roy Williams and ACC player of the year Justin Jackson. They will look to capitalize after their last-second victory over second-seeded Kentucky in the previous round.
The Ducks are led by senior Pac-12 player of the year Dillon Brooks and coach Dana Altman. They will look to keep their hot streak going after a dominant win against first seeded Kansas.
These two teams are very similar on paper. Each rank in the top 20 in offense and defense. UNC has one of the best transition offenses in the NCAA and the Ducks have one of the best transition defenses.
The one thing that may define this game is on the glass. UNC is the best offensive rebounding team in the NCAA. That doesn’t bode well for Oregon, who is one of the worst rebounding teams in the NCAA.
UNC may be the favorite here, but don’t be surprised if the Ducks make something magical happen. It could go either way.
Gonzaga vs. South Carolina
Well this is a first for both teams. It is a tale of two completely different stories: the underdog vs. the favorite.
Gonzaga was a heavy favorite coming into the tournament as they are most years. They are led by head coach Mark Few, who became the third fastest coach to reach 500 wins in Division I history early in the tournament.
This game is going to be interesting because the Gamecocks and the Bulldogs preach defense. The Gamecocks defense ranks second in defensive efficiency in the country, and Gonzaga is first.
What many believe to be the deciding factor in this matchup is the offensive efficiency. Gonzaga is top 20 in the country while South Carolina ranks in the bottom portion of the country.
Gonzaga may have the best chance to win on paper. However, if we’ve learned anything from the history of March Madness, it’s that anything can happen.
“From Our Haus to Yours”